Kare Kano, vol. 15

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This volume was.. a pretty bleak read. Not out of issues with the quality of the story, but more for the nature of the content.

The book opens with Arima recalling incidents of abuse from his childhood, cementing the notion that his mother is not anything resembling a saint. Arima frequently appears bruised and in significant pain in these flashbacks. The way he recognizes the depth of his pain, yet still accepts and seeks his mother’s love is heartbreaking. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 14

287366.jpgBuilding somewhat on the goodwill of the last volume, the chapters of this volume of Kare Kano continue to narrow the focus on Arima’s family. Here, the key player is Arima’s birth mother, a woman named Ryoko.

Ryoko approaches Arima at his family’s house, which initially alarms him, to the point of striking her. Despite his family’s warnings for her to stay away and not get involved in his life, Arima is drawn to her, so he decides to stay in touch. Continue reading

Princess Jellyfish, vol. 3

9781632362308_manga-Princess-Jellyfish-3-primary.jpgKuranosuke’s moneymaking schemes continue in this volume, and in fact, they get taken up a notch.

Tsukimi got a taste of fashion design in the last volume when she helped design a jellyfish dress using some of Kuranosuke’s mother’s effects. Though she makes a stunning piece, the dress isn’t made for a particular purpose.

This changes when Kuranosuke and the Amars crew go to a local play, for which a friend of Kuranosuke’s is part of the crew. Kuranosuke immediately remarks that he couldn’t follow the plot because the costumes were so awful, and he enlists the Amars to design costumes for the production. Whereas the first dress was just made my Tsukimi and Chieko, now, with an order of 24 dresses for the production, all hands have to be on deck. They also enlist the help of a friend of Chieko’s to make sure their seams are proper, since Chieko gave them flack for that the last time. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 13

500443.jpgIt appears the Arima arc Tsuda spoke of a few volumes ago has begun for real this time.

The series has fast-forwarded to senior year for Arima, Miyazawa and company, and there’s a lot of talk about what comes next for our respective characters. Kazuma is still going strong with his band, Tsubasa does modeling work for Kazuma’s group, Maho plans to move on to medical school, Tsubaki and Tonami don’t intend to move on to higher education, and Miyazawa is thinking of going to law school.

A lot of this feels inconsequential, though, as the bulk of this volume reintroduces Arima’s family. Whereas before Arima would just take the abuse and internalize his feelings of worthlessness, now he is 100% more vindictive, and he’s out for revenge. A lot of these chapters depict the abuse he received as a kid – being tied up and left in a basement for his family to find him was particularly disturbing – and juxtapose that with Arima’s accomplishments in the present day. Continue reading

Chihayafuru, vol. 7

chyfr7.pngThis volume contains a healthy mix of stuff – part secondary character growth, part karuta action, part internal strife for our heroine.

Fresh off the matches between her clubmates, Chihaya has decided to support Taichi at a tournament in a different city. She also runs into Arata there, who’s also competing. Taichi and Arata have some exchanges, and Arata passes his e-mail to Taichi, in the hope that it’ll reach Chihaya. In the first volume, there was some minor tension between these two over their romantic feelings for Chihaya. These feelings, mostly unremarked upon in the intervening five volumes, suddenly surge back to the surface when Arata comments on the physical distance between them. Continue reading

Sugar Sugar Rune, vol. 2

1188254.jpgThis volume was a bit more charming and dynamic than the last one, for sure.

This volume mostly starts off the same as the first. Chocolat still pretty much sucks at collecting hearts and is not wise about spending her money. Things don’t change too much, though Vanilla is starting to get angry with Chocolat.

One thing Chocolat uses her money on is a trinket that lets her read a page of her mother’s diary. Her mother doesn’t share a whole lot, but gives her key advice to “never forget your feelings of appreciation after you’ve taken a person’s heart.” It’s not much, but it’s clear Chocolat may be able to build lasting friendships by allowing herself to be a bit warmer to her classmates. Continue reading

Kare Kano, vol. 11

287385.jpgThe Kare Kano journey continues, and this volume does the absolute most to provide things I don’t want from this series.

Whereas other volumes would spend just part of their time introducing and building up new characters, this entire volume is devoted to Kazuma, who, like Tonami, Tsubaki, and Tsubasa before him, has next to no bearing on the main thing that drew me to this story. Continue reading

Land of the Lustrous, vol. 5

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This volume, unlike past ones, is relatively light on action sequences. Instead, we’re treated to some new character introductions.

First up, we meet Padparadscha, a gem who’s been in slumber for several hundred years. They have empty holes in their body that must be filled before they can awaken. Rutile finds some material they can use to fill in the gaps, and so Pad awakens. The caveat is that Pad may still fall back asleep at any moment, without warning. Phos wants to ask Pad some questions about the olden days of gems, but alas, they fall asleep in the grass before Phos can get around to it. Continue reading